Expert Tips on Protecting the Vote

Velvet Revolution is doing us all a mitzvah. The advocacy journalism and activism site presents 13 leading experts answering an important question concerning the Nov. 4 general election: “How can candidates best protect themselves from potential electronic voting problems and manipulation?”

The consensus?

At least 55 percent of Americans voting this November will vote on paper ballots that will be counted by optical scanners, according to Virginia-based Election Data Services, Inc. Our panelists agree that it is critical to election safety that a significant percentage of these paper ballots be randomly audited by hand — at least 5 to 10 percent. Other key recommendations include urging the use of paper in any way, shape or form over touch-screens, increasing awareness of candidates, election officials, and the media as to e-voting vulnerabilities, and most importantly, urging the candidates not to concede until every last ballot has been counted and counted accurately.

But there is one other problem with taking on the machines. “Candidates are incredibly vulnerable to allegations of being a poor loser or conspiracy theorists if they challenge,” says [Simon Ardizzone, the filmmaker behind “Hacking Democracy”]. “Many candidates who want a political career often choose not to challenge, but to keep their credibility for the next election. It’s just unrealistic to ask them to sacrifice their political career for a completely non-vote-winning issue like election reform.” Despite that, he recommends candidates ask as many questions as possible when discrepancies occur, and they should make the answers public.

Ardizzone raises one more intriguing point: “There are certain candidates who don’t stand a chance of being elected and so have nothing to lose by rocking the boat. There is one candidate on the presidential ballot who is incredibly well-versed in the issue and who I am sure would participate in any investigation, because we filmed her extensively during the 2004 election cycle in Georgia (she’s in one of the extra features on the ‘Hacking Democracy’ DVD). That candidate is Cynthia McKinney. Cynthia has rights to a recount almost anywhere in the country. Interesting thought.”

What can you do? Get active. Get in your candidates’ faces. Forward this report far and wide — to candidates and their staff, friends, neighbors.

And wake people the hell up.

Read the entire thing. The varying points of view are on the whole fascinating.

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